Jake Nicolson

NameJake Nicolson
RestaurantBlackbird Bar and Grill
CuisineModern Australian

Biggest culinary influence?
When I arrived back into Australia in 2006 after another 12-month stint with Brett Graham, I was confident in the cooking abilities I had developed in the kitchen. But it wasn't until I worked for Matt Wilkinson that I started to appreciate amazing produce and the huge benefits of being friendly with the local farmer.

Food philosophy?
I've worked really hard to understand exactly what different cooking techniques and methods do to each food item I prepare. I try to make the absolute most out of every ingredient, flavour doesn't discriminate, you just need the ability to harness each product's qualities in a different way to cook food people love.

What did you grow up eating?
I spent a lot of time on my grandparents’ dairy farm in country Victoria. Dinner was always a braise or roast of sorts, plenty of veggies. We picked wild mushroom in the fields and the afternoon tea table was full of scones, jam and cream, freshly baked sponges and biscuits, Granny still puts on a good spread today despite her tender age of 95.

What is the one thing you want people to know about you?
I just have to play every claw machine I see, you know the one that is supposed to pick up those useless toys. I have a strategy and a perseverance that usually empties my wallet before I empty the machine.

Why do you love cooking over fire?
It’s an incredible heat and a raw cooking power that when controlled, adds another depth and flavour to food. Its versatility and many uses make it a tool I simply cannot do without. I can bake, grill, roast, slow cook, dehydrate, char and burn anything with my Infierno96 wood fired grill.

If you had to take a wild guess, what do you think we’ll be eating in 25 years?
I think that within 25 years we will see the rise of laboratory-grown meat, steadily growing food costs and fast growing population means we will be looking at alternatives to our sources of protein. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be printing out a fillet mignon on a fancy space age food printing machine.